20 March 2009

The One I Love - Embryonic

The One I Love was R.E.M.'s first Top 10 single in the United States, and is from the 1987 album, Document. It is also one of the first R.E.M. songs I remember listening to on the radio when I was a kid. It was released on Document, R.E.M.'s fifth studio album; the last album with I.R.S. records.

The song's title most likely has caused many to consider The One I Love as a love song. In fact, Michael Stipe has called it one of the most violent songs he has ever written and was surprised that he was even able to write those lyrics. With lyrics like"A simple prop to occupy my time"; and the single word "Fire" as the chorus, Michael Stipe stated that it is clear that the song is about using people over and over again.

The first live versions of the song are more fitting to the theme of the song. Michael practically yells "Fire" during the chorus and the whole feel of the song is more violent overall. I enjoy the early version of the song. There is more passion, and it feels darker and full of angst.

I have included both the early live performance from 1986 and the studio version released in 1987. Enjoy!

An interesting side note, the director of photography for the video of The One I Love was none other than Alton Brown. Alton is my favorite chef, and I owe much of my culinary knowledge to him, but that's another post.


  1. Luke,
    I never knew Michael Stipe was saying "fire!" This is one of my favorites. It brings back some good memories. Also, in the studio version, is the girl in the backup vocals from the B-52's? If so, what was the story behind this connection?

  2. Eva, the backup vocals in this song are actually sung by basist Mike Mills.

    Kate Pierson, from the B-52's, did backup vocals on Shiny Happy People and a few other R.E.M. songs during the early 90's. R.E.M. and the B-52's are both from Athens, GA, so I think that is the connection.

  3. Okay! That was Mike Mills! Man, I remember jamming out to the B-52's.
    Check it out: I got a CD compilation from the library here, and there's a group featured called RE4M. Talk about copying! Then I thought, and this is kind of cool, that it could mean Rapid Eyes 4 Movement, but I don't really know. Besides, they aren't even very good.



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